Can you translate this?
February 29, 2012 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Translation-Filter: My father is looking for a translation of this Chinese (?) scroll.

imgur link

More info from my dad:

"Sure, thanks. The back story is that it came from a lot of scrolls sold from a museum collection, to a collector who then donated them to the a Zen Center. The Zen Center then auctioned them off as a fundraiser.

Thanks for posting it!"

Show my dad how awesome you guys are!
posted by InsanePenguin to Writing & Language (11 answers total)
I can't translate it for you, but I can tell you that it's written using archaic characters. It isn't modern Hanzi.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:07 PM on February 29, 2012

I found one character so far. It means stone/rock. It's (according to the site) an ancient character.
posted by sarae at 2:29 PM on February 29, 2012



mountain/mountain peak

To do/take care of

to stop

light, shine

They're not in order, it's not all of them, and it doesn't give much context, but it did help me procrastinate immensely.
posted by sarae at 3:33 PM on February 29, 2012

I got a few more. The top one on the right column is 气 which means air or vapor.

The left column is: 金石 ? 堅 塙 which translate to gold, stone, ???, strong/firm, truly.

That's all I've got for now.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 3:41 PM on February 29, 2012

Second column, second character, ancient measure, cup, glass, goblet (if you look at both the ancient and archaic characters, it seems to be a mix of both.
posted by sarae at 4:00 PM on February 29, 2012

Second column, 6th character Pure, genuine
posted by sarae at 4:41 PM on February 29, 2012

I think this scroll is written in seal script, which dates back to the Qin dynasty (221--207BC). I've tried to transliterate the characters into traditional Hanzi, and the two lines, read from top to bottom, right to left, goes like this:

氣 鐘 光 嶽 ? 純 仝 誠 貫
金 石 ? 堅 塙

What they mean in English:

air time/bell light mountainpeak ? pure/simple together sincere pierce/string
metal stone ? strong truly

The ? stands for the character I haven't been able to locate/decipher. I respectfully disagree with sarae that it's zhi3 ("to stop") although it looks very similar.

I've Googled the characters in order with no luck, although 光嶽氣鐘 turns up the Siku Quanshu. I'm sorry I haven't been able to be more helpful, but perhaps you could try to contact a Chinese history or classics scholar from a nearby university!
posted by peripathetic at 4:49 PM on February 29, 2012

Response by poster: Oh man, I can't believe I've actually stumped you guys! This is awesome.

I'll point my dad in another direction, but thank you guys so much for all the help so far!
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:23 PM on February 29, 2012

This is a tough one. That character which is repeated is driving me crazy. It looks like it should be a simple one, possibly even its own radical, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it might be. I agree with peripathetic that it's not the character for stop, although it looks close. Seems like there's an extra stroke in this one vs zhi3.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 10:01 PM on February 29, 2012

Some more information I dug up... this is fun!

氣 鐘 光 嶽 ? 純 仝 誠 貫
金 石 ? 堅 塙

仝 is semantically equivalent to 同 and 塙 to 確 (seal script uses a lot of archaic variant characters whether for stylistic purposes or otherwise). This is what I can figure out with a lot of creative googling: (sorry, most reference links are in Chinese)

光嶽 = old allusion to heaven and earth

氣鐘 = might be homophone of 氣終 meaning "last/expiring breath" (from some quote on this site discussing the fengshui of Mao Zedong's grave)

純[仝/同]誠貫 = understandable as "imbued with honesty, purity and integrity"

And *drumroll* mystery character is...

(of), which I admit looks totally unlike its modern version. (It's the first character in the second row of the fourth image :)

Thus, the last sentence (金石之堅[塙/確]) is easily interpreted as "firm or strong as metal or rock", a common idiom in Chinese.

Hope this helps!
posted by monocot at 6:08 AM on March 1, 2012

Shikes, just after I post I find a direct quote of the whole sentence on a Japanese site... it appears to be part of a passage engraved on a stone in honour of Kato, who is related to a certain Fukuda bank. (?!)
posted by monocot at 6:17 AM on March 1, 2012

« Older Does being in a good relationship take the edge...   |   Lesbian bars in Chicago? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.